With no fans in the stands, more things are being heard on the field than ever. And maybe that’s not such a good thing.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli on Monday said he wouldn’t mind the artificial background noise every team is using turned up in an attempt to avoid potential conflicts.
This comes after most Royals players stayed in the dugout for a several moments at the end of Sunday’s 4-2 loss, as Twins reliever Sergio Romo kept chirping at them after he struck out the side.
“I think it’s happened throughout baseball all year,” Baldelli said. “It’s not nobody’s fault. I keep saying our audio and in-game stuff has been fun, and the energy has been good in the ballpark. I think we could definitely continue to play with different things to help drown out some of that back and forth, or just some of what goes on out on the field. I think that could potentially help everyone. I think it’s part of the conversation. It’s something we probably could do a little bit and maybe it’ll help.”
Video showed Romo apparently yelling, “Keep talking,” following the final out. Indications are that the issue began earlier in the inning when a close pitch was called a strike on Nicky Lopez, leading to an eruption from the Kansas City dugout that got Romo’s attention.
“A little taunting going on,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said after Sunday’s game. “I think what you’re seeing is the result of being able to hear everything each bench says. You can’t take emotions out of this game, either. A little taunting to our side and our boys didn’t like it a whole lot.”
Major League Baseball provided teams with “ambient and reactionary background audio” to play during games, saying it can be played at a volume that would mimic sounds at the park if fans were there. That would be very loud, in some cases, and many stadiums don’t play the background noise that loud.
So comments are heard all over the stadium now. Nelson Cruz cheers for himself when his name is introduced before the game. Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda grunt as they release pitches. Luis Arraez calls “Strike!” from the infield when his pitcher throws a ball over the plate — sometimes before the umpire does. And it’s much easier for umpires to hear objections from dugouts.
“There’s definitely more chirping that is heard when there’s no fans in the stands,” Baldelli said. “You hear everything. Every player on both sides of the field, every umpire, everyone hears everything that is said. That’s not normal.”
Baldelli didn’t expect any carryover from Sunday’s game — although a number of Twins players on Monday wore green T-shirts during warmups with “SERGIO” across the front.
Hill back Wednesday?
Maeda will start Tuesday against Milwaukee. Jose Berrios will start Thursday. That leaves an opening Wednesday.
It looks like a perfect spot to write in Hill, a lefthander who has been sidelined since July 29 by a slight shoulder problem. He threw to hitters last week at the St. Paul camp with no problems.
“Rich is still feeling really good,” Baldelli said. “We’re not ready to make a final announcement on every starter this week, especially Wednesday’s starter.”
No way to check
In addition to hitters being unable to use in-game video to spot flaws in their swings this season, no video means Baldelli and the coaching staff can’t verify plays and pitches, either.
The league has banned the use of video following the Astros cheating scandal.
“We don’t run down and look at every call,” Baldelli said. “I don’t think we do a ton of complaining and arguing during the game. But it is nice to know when a call is proper or not. There are a lot of close ones. But it is good to know when there is a call that’s actually a pretty decent call and one that just is not. And there’s no way for us to verify that.”